Juvenile Law is an area of the law that deals with the actions and well-being of persons who are not yet adults, or otherwise known as minors. Juvenile courts generally have authority over three categories of children. The first category is a juvenile accused of criminal conduct, otherwise known as a juvenile delinquent. A juvenile is defined as a person who is not old enough to be held responsible for criminal acts. The second category is minor children neglected or abused by their parents, or in need of assistance from the state. A person, whether the State Department of Human
Resources, or a private petitioner, will file a dependency petition in Juvenile Court to determine whether the child is dependent and in need of alternative placement. This last category deals with juveniles accused of a status offense, such as absence from school (truancy), flight from home, disobedience of reasonable parental controls, and purchase of alcohol, tobacco, or pornography.